Uruguay: The Only Civilized Latin Americans

July 4, 2010

Luis Suarez
“Why, among all the South American teams, have you heard so little talk about Uruguay this summer? I’ll tell you why: Because they’re civilized. Uruguay is the first democracy of Latin America, the first country where women voted. Whenever they have a national conflict, they solve it by referendum. Even the flyers announcing illegal prostitution clubs have a polite note below: ‘Please do not throw this paper in the street. Use a trash can.’” (Vanity Fair)

Uruguay rides luck against Ghana
“Against Ghana, though, in the final minutes of extra time, there was no control; there was merely nerve-rending hanging-on, and if Asamoah Gyan had taken the penalty he went on to take in the shootout five minutes earlier, Uruguay would have been out and Ghana would have been Africa’s first ever semifinalist. Instead after the game ended at 1-1 in extra time, Uruguay triumphed 4-2 on penalties.” (SI)

The New Hand of God
“Finally, there’s the larger point — PKs may feel like a gimmick, but, yeah, there’s no denying: It’s one heck of a gimmick. Like the fortune in the fortune cookie, it works. The penalty kicks ending of the Uruguay-Ghana match on Friday was so emotional, so heartbreaking, so inspiring, so powerful — it was the peak of this World Cup. It was one of those universal moments of sport, the sort of thing you can just enter without credentials, without prior knowledge, without any sense of the game. This was boxing without violence, tennis without lines, an Olympic 100-meter dash without a finish line. This was raw sport.” (SI)

World Cup Live: Uruguay vs. Ghana
“An unbelievable finish at Soccer City in Johannesburg put Uruguay through to the semifinals and Ghana out of the tournament in absolutely heartbreaking fashion. Ghana was awarded a penalty kick at the end of extra time when Uruguay’s Luis Suarez punched a Ghana shot off the goal line with his hand — a denial of a certain goal and a red card offense, but punishable only by giving the Black Stars a penalty kick as the last act of the match. But Asamoah Gyan blew his chance to give Ghana a 2-1 victory by shooting the ball off the bar and out of play.” (NYT)

World Cup 2010: Paraguay 0-1 Spain

July 4, 2010

“What a world. Regardlesss of the lie of the fixtures, if anyone had said two days ago that Paraguay and Uruguay would be the last South American representatives in the 2010 World Cup, they would have been dismissed as cranks. But here we are. We have had three marvellous quarter-finals so far (for an almost baffling variety of different reasons) and here we are, all set for the final match between Paraguay and Spain. The Paraguayan flame has burnt intermittently in South Africa so far. Their penalty shootout win in the last round against Japan came at the end of possibly the worst match of the tournament so far, but they demonstrated their capability in winning their group as Italy imploded.” (twohundredpercent)

Spain v Paraguay: tactical preview
“Have Paraguay got any chance of coming away from this game with a result? Possibly a greater chance than some might expect. They are clearly the underdogs, but Spain have yet to hit top form, and the ease with which they saw out games against Chile and against Portugal ignores the fact that they didn’t have the game their own way until David Villa broke the deadlock.” (Zonal Marking)

Spain Looks in the Mirror
“Until their victory in the European Cup two years ago, national football in Spain was never about winning. It was about hope and fury (la Furia, the team’s nickname, recalls an episode of heroism in battle), and yes, oh yes, it always ended up signifying nothing. But defeating Germany in the final of 2008, and doing so with extraordinary virtuosity, transformed them into World Cup favorites. And then came Switzerland, with their strange mixture of German practicality and Italian catenaccio, blundered their way into the goal and had Spanish football fans go into their deepest emotional crisis in history.” (Vanity Fair)

Paraguay 0-1 Spain – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 3 July 2010
“It was an eventful match that would see two penalty kicks missed but Spain eventually advancing to the semifinals. Spain was the better team throughout the match but struggled to break down the Paraguay defense until late in the second half. Both teams had penalties in the second half but both were saved.” (The 90th Minute)

Europe dominates semifinal lineup

July 4, 2010

“So much for South Americans dominating this World Cup. Three sides from the continent were eliminated in the quarterfinals, leaving Uruguay, the last team to qualify for the competition after a playoff win over Costa Rica, as its only representative. In similar fashion, the demise of the European nations appear to have been exaggerated with Germany, Spain and the Netherlands advancing to the final four.” (SI)

Germany 4-0 Argentina: Germany are getting better and better and better

July 4, 2010

“Germany put in one of the most impressive performances in recent World Cup history to absolutely thrash Diego Maradona’s Argentina side. No surprises in terms of line-ups – they were as predicted in the preview, and Argentina remained with their loose 4-4-2 diamond shape.” (Zonal Marking)

Emotion no substitute for clear thinking
“Diego Maradona compared Argentina’s 4-0 World Cup defeat by Germany to being on the wrong end of a punch thrown by Muhammad Ali. Perhaps he needed Ali’s legendary trainer Angelo Dundee alongside him on the bench. In one of the great sports books. David Remnick’s ‘King of the World,’ Dundee recalled his involvement in the first fight with Sonny Liston, when Cassius Clay (as Ali was still called at the time) had been blinded by a substance allegedly put on Liston’s gloves. He was threatening to abandon the fight, but Dundee managed to calm him down.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)

Argentina: Still Bipolar
“The ups and downs of the past 24 hours here have been brutal, saddening, and well, very Argentine. The knives will likely come out now for Diego Maradona as quickly as the flurry of mea culpas came in during the days leading up to today’s match with Germany. Not full mea culpas mind you, but the extent to which you will come across one at all among Argentina’s leaders, in politics, business, and most definitely the media—more like rationalizing.” (TNR)

Maradona gambles on the ‘owner’ to deliver Cup glory
“In the German squad’s five-star hotel outside Pretoria, their match analysts have spent days thinking about Lionel Messi. Germany enter Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final against Argentina in Cape Town with a “Messi strategy”. It may well work. There is a way to stop the world’s best footballer, and Messi’s own coach, Diego Maradona, may inadvertently have stumbled upon it.” (FT – Simon Kuper)

Argentina vs. Germany – Painless ’til the End
“I’ve tried for four years to explain to new American soccer fans what it means to lose to Germany. All metaphors escape me expect for horror films. On the one hand, the German experience is a profound blow psychologically. Even when the scoreline reads 4-1 or 4-0, the Germans always give the other team enough of the ball to make them feel the result was within in reach. If only Lampard’s goal was ruled a goal, if only Dimaria had kept his shot low, if only Romero had commanded his box.” (futfanatico)

Germany, playing for more than a win
“On the eve of the World Cup, players reminded the press that this tournament was different. This year, they were playing in the wake of traumatic loss, and would do their best to honor the memory of Robert Enke, the German National Team goalkeeper who committed suicide in November 2009. In his story for The Guardian, Dominic Fifield explains…” (From A Left Wing)

Football for All

July 4, 2010

“On the way home from Johannesburg, I picked up a copy of the Mail & Guardian, which calls itself “Africa’s Best Read.” Here’s the headline on the lead story that day: “Danny Jordaan’s brother cashes in on 2010.” The newspaper reported that a company controlled by Andrew Jordaan, brother of the head of the local organizing committee, is being paid around $15,000 a month by the World Cup’s official “hospitality-services” provider to serve as a “liaison” in one of the host cities. He also happened to own a share of a consortium that built one of the World Cup stadiums. Yes, indeed, the tournament seems to have been very hospitable to Jordaan frere.” (TNR)

Brazil Undone By Dutch Pragmatism

July 4, 2010

“Never meet your heroes, they say. It is possible that a lot of people met theirs yesterday in the form of the 2010 version of the Brazilian national football team. A team that was widely-tipped to win the competition is out at the quarter-final stage for the second time in a row, and it seems unlikely that many people will actually miss them that much. On more or less any other day of the tournament – of any tournament – this would have been big, big news. Events in Port Elizabeth were overshadowed by what was to follow in the evening, but this doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth having a quick look at how they managed to get things wrong.” (twohundredpercent)

The Dutch Risk It All
“This afternoon in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, the Netherlands takes the field against Brazil in the World Cup quarterfinals. The Dutch are famous for playing a stylish kind of football that is short on defense, sometimes even short on goals, but never short on entertainment. In the 1974 World Cup final, it famously scored before its West German opponents had even touched the ball and then spent the rest of the game trying to create a highlight reel instead of a victory. The Dutch lost 2-1. But it’s reputation wasn’t harmed.” (Vanity Fair)

Oranje: Don’t Look So Surprised
“Holland just downed Brazil two to one, leaving the contents of the tournament co-favorite (let’s not forget about Spain) to scatter across Western Europe in returning to their home clubs. I like the Dutch and I tend to root against Brazil, but this is no Oranje flag-waving piece. I’m not of Dutch descent and I didn’t leap into TYAC writer Puck’s arms whenever the Netherlands scored, that’s reserved for clinical Landon Donovan penalty kicks to draw the Yanks level. So with the disclaimer out of the way, here’s my issue: Why is such a large portion of the footballing world in such shock over this result?” (Yanks are coming)

Paying Peter Hargitay: The Price Of A World Cup Bid

July 4, 2010

“11.37-million Australian dollars: that’s the cost of paying two shady international lobbyists, Peter Hargitay and Fedor Radmann, to grease Australia’s 2022 World Cup bid for FIFA’s wheels. A couple of days ago, we commented on the revelations coming out in the Australian press about the suspect manner in which their World Cup bid was being made. That piece was on how Australia’s governing body, Football Federation Australia (FFA), and its bid team were taking advantage of FIFA’s lax and inadequate rules on gifts to FIFA Executive Committee members (the 24 of whom will decide on the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in December).” (Pitch Invasion)